Middletown library asks residents to share COVID-19 experiences

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MIDDLETOWN – The directors of the Middletown Township Public Library have started a new program and are encouraging residents of all ages to participate.

The COVID-19 Local History Archive Initiative allows residents to share their experiences of living through the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to maintain the history of Middletown and be able to document the challenges people went through while living through the pandemic,” Library Director Heather Andolsen said.

There are many challenges and life experiences people have faced during the past six months as the deadly virus held New Jersey in its grip, she said.

For example, schools were ordered to close in mid-March and parents took on a larger role in educating their children as the youngsters were receiving remote instruction. Many people began working from home as their places of business closed. Some individuals lost their job or had their work hours and pay reduced.

The virus kept people apart and disrupted the observance and celebration of life events such as birthdays, weddings, funerals, holidays and religious services.

Andolsen said that during the project, representatives of the Reference Department will interview people and document their COVID-19 stories and experiences.

Participants may submit photographs, artwork, videos or a podcast as documents of what everyone hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The stories and documents will be placed into an exhibit at the library and on the library’s website as a permanent record, Andolsen said.

“We want to show future generations how we did in the pandemic,” she said. “It will be nice to tell people what we went through with COVID-19. A lot of residents have been happy to share their stories and want us to keep doing it so they can look at other stories from people in the community.”

Submissions for the COVID-19 Local History Archive initiative are still being accepted.

After being closed for several months during the pandemic, the library reopened in July and has received support from the community, Andolsen said, adding that operations are slowly returning to normal.

Virtual programs will continue to be offered until in-person programming resumes.

The library, 55 New Monmouth Road, is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 732-671-3700 or visit https://www.mtpl.org/